The word is out that Geoffrey Chaucer
never bothered with a saucer,
for though he raised many a couplet,
he always held them fully uplet!
Some have charged Truman Capote
with writing that is too emotey.
but though he was no macho stud,
I know that he wrote in cold blood.
The prompt today was to write a clerihew. A clerihew has the following properties:
- It is biographical and usually whimsical, showing the subject from an unusual point of view; it mostly pokes fun at famous people
- It has four lines of irregular length and metre (for comic effect)
- The rhyme structure is AABB; the subject matter and wording are often humorously contrived in order to achieve a rhyme, including the use of phrases in Latin, French and other non-English languages
- The first line contains, and may consist solely of, the subject’s name. According to a letter in the Spectator in the 1960s, Bentley said that a true clerihew has to have the name “at the end of the first line”, as the whole point was the skill in rhyming awkward names.
Clerihews are not satirical or abusive, but they target famous individuals and reposition them in an absurd, anachronistic or commonplace setting, often giving them an over-simplified and slightly garbled description (not unlike the schoolboy style of 1066 and All That). The unbalanced and unpolished poetic meter and line length parody the limerick, and the clerihew in form also parodies the eulogy.